January 21st, 2007

imeem, i’m sayin

Talk about too much music. Was readying a post on all the pods I cast (or subscribe to, that is), but then I get pointed to a Soca 2k7 playlist on some mysite called imeem —

The soca 2k7 are verrrrrry r and b. I thought it would be
interesting for your work. The soca sound is now soooo
mellowed out. I’m really surprised. Every song on this list
departs from the traditional soca 1000mph beat. [thx, lis!]

— and before I knew it I’d spent a couple hours listening to lovingly compiled playlists of reggae, reggaeton (incl a whole playlist devoted to up-and-veniendo reggaetonero Arcangel), bachata, and various forms of local/regional/DIY hip-hop (like, whoa), incl Chicago’s own lo-fi, fruityloopy, ghettotechy song’n’dance — juke.

Considering the genre’s relative low-pro — esp in comparison to similar scenes/sounds (e.g., Bmore clubb, D-troit g-tech, Yay Area hyphy, ATL crunk) — I was struck by the number of juke playlists I found while browsing imeem. It seems that one of imeem’s more interesting, distinguishing features is that a significant (majority?) segment of the community sharing and commenting on various content there seems largely to be, to put it frankly and slightly awkly, black and brown and, in the words of the policy wonks, underprivileged — people more typically relegated (in the imagination and reality) to the other side of the digital divide. (For overlapping and contrasting perspectives, see, e.g., reports from the Nat’l Poverty Center, the NYT, the Nat’l Telecom&Info Admin as well as, why not, pomo sociology.)

But, getting back to juke, I’m sayin: who can resist the joie de bump of them uptempo bpms, poppin’/distortid bass kicks, dirty dance mantras, (Down)South/side accents, and bloop-bleep synths’n’samples — to wit bit, check BabyGurl’s playlist devoted to the productions of DJ Clent, which she glosses as “chi-town juke music for dem goonz that footwurk and juke.” I recommend esp tracks #1, 2, 11, 12, — which demonstrate some serious creativity, stylistic mastery and experimentation, and flair — and without a doubt #5-7 (for some rilly nice nostalgic bangers, riffing on vintage video games and ice-cream-truck music). I also recommend headphones; cpu-speakers will not do justice to the bass (nor does the mp3pression, but what are ya gonna do) —

And if you like Clent’s stuff, u’ll prolly dig other juke tracks too. Check, for example (below), how “tha” Pope’s “Work Dat” (#8) radically recontextualizes yet again Solomon Linda’s 1939 zulu bomber, or how Dj apollo gets DUM on some Sanford and Son (#17) — never mind the mindnumbed allure of (feminism forgive me) “Kswiss Juke” (#10), long as you listen like it’s on some ol’ Steve Reich loopsurdity // ? —

— or the audible connections to classic traxxic house and maybe stepping too (“Chicago Juke Slide,” #14 below, #2 above), not to mention Miami-Detroit bass-tech party chants ad infinitum (#16 below) —

imeem, i’m sayin: who needs the RIAA to help such artists make a living by doing what they do? (No one better tell Lil Weezy, tho, that he’s got mad songs up over there.) F’real: Tell me where I can hear/cop this stuff around town, and I’ll gladly support the efforts. Zen-carts, right? (&plz[helpme]tell the urban-bass-dance spinnsters how they might purchase a track or two for Serato and such, and I’m betting — or hoping/suggesting — that they’ll be happy to slide some change that-a-way.) Chicago’s enduring segregation patterns and drastic contrasts in stds-of-living don’t necessarily make it as easy for juke artists to reach a broader (richer) audience and thus keep “eatin” as well as they say they are (I believe ya) —

— but the opportunities are there (esp as digitally mediated), and increasingly, and — if we work to make it happen — conditions can continue to change in the right direction, to enable activity and advancement not against the odds (hate the game) but against the strictures and structures of institutionalized racism. These meem (as well as other __spaces) seem to point in that direction as much as they already bear witness to a vibrant, creative, interactive, self-directed cultural movement with a momentum all its own. knameem? knomesprayin?

photo by swanksalot

cross posted to the riddimmethod


  • 1. Ghostdad  |  January 21st, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Looks like we stumbled across iMeem at the same time. Been meaning to dig more into this myself. I played some tracks I found on the air there and I’ve got some chi town dudes sending their stuff my way. solid! Peep the Hotboy Smooth playlist posted in my last entry! Thanks for combing this one out!

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  January 21st, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    whattaya know? good meems spread quick!

    nice post on regional ghettotech scenes. here’s to more and more —

  • 3. ripley  |  January 22nd, 2007 at 2:56 am

    On the regional tip there’s also “memphis buckin”
    which looks more like the fluid breaking style of yore, kinda like popping and locking without the popping and not much locking either.

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  January 23rd, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks, Rip. Hadn’t heard of Memphis Buckin. Love the way the i/my/you-net is letting these scenes rep inter/nationally.

    Also, though I was eager to share this stuff with the world, I realize that I’ve only cursorily contextualized it here. Don’t worry, though. I’ve got plans to talk to lots of people in the scene here and fill out the picture a bit (& support some of Chi-town’s unsung heroes). Act local, think global, knamean.

    Meantime, for a lil more, check out this interview w/ longtime juke producer DJ Slugo —

  • 5. Birdseed  |  January 24th, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    My favourites (being a nerd) are the “Link falling down a hole” sounds from the Zelda series that appear in some of the tracks. :)

  • 6. Jorge Vieira  |  January 24th, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Nice post.

    By the way, that “Designated bird feeding area” is inspired by an old work by Uk artist Banksy.

    As you can see here:


  • 7. wayneandwax  |  January 24th, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Interesting point, Jorge. On the other hand, Banksy’s own referential work was no doubt inspired by more “official” signage.

    Hadn’t noticed the Zelda sound (it’s been a while), but I dug the Pacman refs!

  • 8. Birdseed  |  January 25th, 2007 at 6:31 am

    That obviously begs the question: what influence has video game music (and sound effects) had on regional urban genres, in the US and elsewhere? I don’t just mean stuff like “Do The Mario” by DJ Jubillee, Willie Puckett et al, but generally?

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  January 25th, 2007 at 10:33 am

    It’s a good question, Birdseed. At least in one sense, it’s hardly surprising — these games made up an important part of the intimate and commonplace soundscapes for lots of (urban) kids growing up during the 80s and 90s. I’m not recalling a lot of examples at the moment, but hip-hop artists have been sampling (and imitating — via beatbox) video game sounds for some time now.

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  January 26th, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    props to catchdubs for this fader piece on juke from last year — missed it the first time around:

  • 11. DDVonB  |  January 26th, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Video game music is quite well documented (its appropriation/repurposing probably less so):


    Seems to owe a big debt to Yellow Magic Orchestra:


    Here’s YMO’s Harumi Hosono rocking the theme to Xevius on Japanese state broadcaster NHK (not sure of the year):


    I think this was Hosono’s own variety show (hence the comedy bits with the mad scientist- Hosono himself?- talking about communicating with nature). When the toms get hype-r around 1:10 min in, it could almost be juke!

    Didn’t Mad Kap (tragically under-rated!) sample the Mario theme to great effect in the early 90s?

    Also, there was a techno tribute to Space Invaders on a Japanese major label a few years back:


    The “Space Invaders 2003” video up there is a trip.

  • 12. wayneandwax  |  January 28th, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for the linkthink, DDVonB. Indeed, lots of intersections to explore here. It occurs to me, though, that “appropriation” might be less, um, appropriate than, say, “insinuation” when discussing the ways video game music works its way into new contexts. (Lots of us had these themes burned into memory!)

    I’m not familiar with Mad Kap’s use of the Mario theme — though I agree that they’re underrated! — but I definitely think of Cocoa Brovaz’ “Super Brooklyn” as a notable/effective use of Mario samples. In addition to many other (early) instances, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (on the He’s the DJ album) have a song that features a number of Atari-era vid-game themes, but in that case, they’re reproduced by an impressive beatboxer rather than sampled.

  • 13. wayneandwax.com » B&hellip  |  March 15th, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    […] clips available at a mouseclick, &complete with more commentary than one might care to read. [I mean, I’m sayin, shouldn’t our libraries be archiving this […]

  • 14. wayneandwax.com » P&hellip  |  December 13th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    […] the so-called platforms falling out from under Wikileaks are the same ones that have been shifting beneath our footworking feet for years. Once again grassroots popular culture — as animated by music in particular — […]

  • 15. wayneandwax.com » B&hellip  |  March 14th, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    […] mainstream (for better and worse). I started blogging about juke back when I lived to Chicago and discovered imeem (at the same damn time). Sudden juke goldmine even if everything was pretty much streaming at […]


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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